It has to be accepted that pre-season friendlies involve a great deal of switching of players and attempting new things, if possible. This was no exception. Wharfedale turned out a mixture of experienced players along with several younger ones keen to show their prowess.
Bradford Salem, who play in Yorkshire One, provided the opportunity to compare where the Foresters lie regarding their competitive ability and to analyse their strengths and weaknesses. The visitors unfortunately arrived with no props so the game was played with uncontested scrums, which, if anything, suited Bradford the better. There would appear to be a famine in Yorkshire, where props are concerned.
This was a very competitive game as the visitors were forceful in attack and gave the Foresters ample opportunity to test their defensive capabilities. The home side had a squad of 27 players so a great number of changes took place throughout. Head Coach James Docherty stated he was pleased with the outcome adding that it had given him the chance to asses the squad in a hard fought fast game. He felt that the squad had done well.
Wharfedale took control early in the match with a good try scored by Jake Parkinson after sustained pressure. Jamie Guy added the conversion. The next fifteen or so minutes were very evenly matched until an excellent try was scored by Otto Mallieu Black after superb work by Robbie Davidson. Again Guy added the extras to give the home side a well-deserved 14-0 lead.
Undaunted Salem came back at the Greens and, after strong forward play, scored an unconverted try. They never ceased from trying to move the ball quickly at every opportunity and in defence stymied the Greens with good cover tackling.
The play was end to end with little to separate the two sides. If anything though the Foresters always looked the more likely to score at this stage of proceedings and sure enough scrum half Jimmy Bullough forced his way over for a try converted by Guy. Yet again, with credit to their attitude, back came the visitors and a clever kick to the wing gave him the chance to skip over for well worked converted try. So 21-12 at half time. It had been good entertainment for a decent crowd.
The restart brought multiple changes which, not surprisingly, resulted in a period of scrappy play and missed tackles, although some of the Foresters’ decision making was questionable. However, the first game of the season nearly always provides such passages of play. Bradford, still forceful whenever given the opportunity, attacked from a Greens mistake and went over for an unconverted try. The lack of early fluency seemed to be affecting the home side. However regrouping, after more changes, the Foresters went over with a try from our new boy from Latvia Emils Blandonis, who had an encouraging debut. The try was duly converted making the score of 28-17. Bradford would not lie down and went over for a final score with a try in the corner and the whistle blew at 28-22.
A mixed, yet in the main encouraging, performance and the Foresters coaches seemed pleased with the outcome after what had been a thoroughly sound work out. Many of this group are looking extremely fit and the signs appear good for the rest of the season, although there is still plenty of fine tuning to be carried out.
On the night, special mention to Callum Lockett, Jake Parkinson, Jamie Guy and Will Davidson, the latter`s pace to be savoured. The four gave good performances. Others also did well on the night and in the first half in particular, moved the ball with pace and purpose. In possession the backs looked sharp and methodical. Sure enough in patches the play was somewhat frenzied but we are all fairly sure the coaches will eradicate that and a decent squad will emerge.
Credit to Bradford Salem who came with the intention of playing fast attacking rugby and did just that, with several players who looked energetic and sharp and bound to perform well in their clubs league this season. Good luck to them. Also pleasing to see back several Wharfedale players such as Alistair Allen, Tom Whyte, Simon Borrill, Tom Jackson and Tom Davidson who have had lengthy spells away due to injuries etc.
Team :- James Huck, Jake Parkinson, Jimmy Meehan, Alistair Allen, Simon Borrill, Callum Lockett, Tom Whyte, Tom Wareing, Jimmy Bullough, Jamie Guy, Robbie Davidson, Will Davidson, Simon Crabtree, Otto Mallieu Black, Harry Bullough.
Replacements:- Matt Close, Tom Jackson, Dan Stockdale, Jim Bowers, Matt Hall, Emils Blandonis, Ollie Snowden, Will Lawn, Max Bell, Tom Davidson, Ben Parkinson, Tom Murray.